How was your Christmas?

Ours was somewhat low key. We spent Christmas at home with just us and my husbands brother. In many ways this was actually quite nice. We could just let the kids be themselves and did not need to worry about having them dressed, or what they were getting into. On the other hand, we missed the family and wish we could have spent it with them.

You may not know this, but in Denmark, many families do advant gifts. We also did this. For the kids, it is the elf that lives the the ceiling that delivers the gifts to the kids each advant. However, we decided to start a new tradition. On the morning of the 24th, we awoke to gifts for the entire family and a letter from the elf saying that it had one more gift for us all. Each of us received some pj’s so we could be comfy during the day.

Another thing about Danish christmas is that it is celebrated on the 24th. Christmas eve, or juleaften as it is known here, is when everyone has their big family dinner and opens gifts. I decided to up the anticipation by putting out all the gifts under the tree in the morning before the kids got up. However, this just resulted in my catching Sophie stealing gifts to open all day. She managed to open one gift before the evening. Little rascal.

We spent the morning watching Polar Express all together all cozy on the couch. I think this might be a new tradition as well. After that Sean and I started to get some things ready for dinner.

Next up on the list of things we wanted to do was Sean wanted to make æbleskriver, a danish dessert type donut/pancake thing. Directly translated they are called apple slices, but they have nothing to do with apple slices. They are also tricky to make, and this was Sean’s first try.

His first set were ok, but then he got the hang of it and they turned out very tasty. We decided to make this our lunch. So we served these up, and watched the last episode of this years ‘julekalender’.  This is another Danish traditional thing. Every year the main tv channels play a 24 part mini series, with a new episode coming out each day leading up to Christmas. This is one of my favorite things to do with the kids over the month, and seeing the last one, sitting on the couch, eating æbleskriver was a lovely way to spend lunch.

After lunch Sean and I went into full on house cleaning and dinner prep. We decided to go with a traditional danish christmas dinner with roast pork with crackling, white potatoes, glazed potatoes, a christmas sausage and cooked red cabbage.

Dinner was pretty good! We did a pretty good job if I do say myself. After dinner we took a pause and since the kids had been crazy all afternoon and during dinner we decided to let them watch something on TV. Not long after we had dessert. Another traditional danish item: ris a la made.

Ris a la made is kind of a rice pudding type thing. It is not particularly tasty or good, but you serve it with cherry sauce and it is edible. Now you are probably wondering why on earth serve and eat it if it isn’t all that good. Well…. it is also a game. You see, hidden in that bowl is a single full almond. And the person who finds the almond wins a small gift. We had a bit of a hiccup with this, as it was noticed right before serving that the almond was sitting right on the top.. so we had to stir it in again… And you know what… finding that almond was almost impossible! We all ate our portions, because that is part of the rules, you have to eat the portion that is on your plate, and none of us had the almond. After all of digging through the entire bowl it was eventually found. Another version of this game is to put a bunch of almonds in, and the person with the most when everyone’s done eating wins. I think I will do this next year.

After this, we decided the kids had waited long enough, and we opened gifts. We always hand out all the gifts before anyone can open. Then we let them go at it.

The kids were very happy with their gifts, and of course, jumped into playing with them right away. Which we let them until about 10.

At this time, Sophie was done. She was getting cranky and ready for bed. So while the older three played a game of hungry hungry hippos I put Sophie bed. When I got out, we said goodbye to Sean’s brother and we all crashed on the sofa to watch something on the TV. The kids started falling asleep, so we carried them off to bed.

This year we decided that Santa would come in the middle of the night and leave gifts for the kids to find under the tree on the 25th. This is something new we did this year. There seems to be a lot of traditions around Santa and the gifts he gives here. In some families Santa comes in person on the 24th and gives the kids gifts. With other families, he just leaves a sack of gifts at the door, again on the 24th. We have done both of these. This year we opted to do it the I grew up with Santa leaving gives under the tree. I have to say, I can’t decide which option I like best.

All in all I call our Christmas a success. It was nice to form some of our own traditions, and blend them into the danish traditions the kids have come to know.

Also.. I introduced the kids to Jello… it was a hit 🙂